Volume 7, Chapter 9, Section 2 -- Journey to India over-land, by Ralph Fitch, Merchant of London, and others, in 1583.
We learn from the following journal, that the present expedition was undertaken at the instigation, and chiefly at the expence of Sir Edward Osborne, Knight, and Mr Richard Staper, citizens and merchants of London. Besides Fitch, the author of the narrative, Mr John Newbery, merchant; William Leedes, jeweller; and James Story, painter, were engaged in the expedition. The chief conduct of this commercial enterprize appears to have been confided to John Newbery; and its object appears to have been to extend the trade, which the English merchants seem to have only recently established through Syria, by Aleppo, Bagdat and Basora, to Ormus and perhaps to Goa, in imitation of the Italians, so as to procure the commodities of India as nearly as possible at first hand. In the prospect of being able to penetrate into India, and even into China, Newbery was furnished with letters of credence or recommendation, from Queen Elizabeth to Zelabdim Echebar, stiled king of Cambaia, who certainly appears to have been Akbar Shah, emperor of the Mogul conquerors of Hindostan, who reigned from 1556 to 1605; and to the emperor of China. The promoters of this enterprise seem to have been actuated by a more than ordinary spirit of research for those times, by employing a painter to accompany their commercial agents. It is farther presumable that the promoters of the expedition, and their agents, Newbery and Fitch, were members of the Turkey company; and though the speculation turned out unsuccessful, owing to causes sufficiently explained in the narrative and its accompanying documents, it is obviously a prelude to the establishment of the English East India Company; which from small beginnings, has risen to a colossal height of commercial and sovereign grandeur, altogether unexampled in all history.
Hakluyt gives the following descriptive title of this uncommonly curious and interesting narrative: "The voyage of Mr Ralph Fitch, merchant of London, by the way of Tripolis in Syria to Ormus, and so to Goa in the East India, to Cambaia, and all the kingdom, of Zelabdim Echebar the great Mogor, to the mighty river Ganges, and down to Bengala, to Bacola and Chonderi, to Pegu, to Imahay in the kingdom of Siam, and back to Pegu, and from thence to Malacca, Zeilan, Cochin, and all the coast of the East India; begun in the year of our Lord 1583, and ended in 1591: wherein the strange rites, manners, and customs of those people, and the exceeding rich trade and commodities of those countries, are faithfully set down and diligently described, by the foresaid Mr Ralph Fitch."
Hakluyt has prefaced this journal by several letters respecting the journey from Mr Newbery, and one from Mr Fitch, and gives by way of appendix an extract from Linschoten, detailing the imprisonment of the adventurers at Ormus and Goa, and their escape, which happened while he was at Goa, where he seems to have materially contributed to their enlargement from prison. These documents will be found in the sequel to the narrative of Mr Fitch.
It must not however be concealed, that the present journal has a very questionable appearance in regard to its entire authenticity, as it has obviously borrowed liberally from that of Cesar Frederick, already inserted in this work, Vol. VII. p. 142-244. It seems therefore highly probable, that the journal or narrative of Fitch may have fallen into the hand of some ingenious book-maker, who wished to increase its interest by this unjustifiable art. Under these circumstances, we would have been led to reject this article from our collection, were not its general authenticity corroborated by these other documents, and by the journal of John Eldred, who accompanied Newbery and Fitch to Basora. A part of the striking coincidence between the journals of Cesar Frederick and Ralph Fitch might have arisen from their having visited the same places, and nearly by the same route, only at the distance of 20 years; Frederick having commenced his journey in 1563, and Newbery and Fitch theirs in 1588. Some of the resemblances however could only have been occasioned by plagiarism.
It is very difficult to conceive how Fitch, after his imprisonment at Goa, and escape from thence under surety to the Portuguese viceroy, should have ventured in the sequel to visit the Portuguese settlements in Ceylon, Cochin, Calicut, Goa even, Chaul, and Ormuz, on his way home again by Basora, Bagdat, Mosul, &c. to Aleppo and Tripoli. These parts of his journal, and his excursions to the north of Pegu, certainly have a suspicious appearance. It is possible that he may have described these several routes, historically, in his own journal; and that some book-maker, into whose hands his papers may have fallen, chose to give these a more interesting appearance, by making Fitch the actor in what he only described on the authority of others. It is strange that these circumstances should not have occurred to Hakluyt, as the narrative of Fitch is inserted in his collection immediately following that of Cesar Frederick. Yet with these obvious faults, the relation of Fitch is interesting, as the first direct attempt of the English to open a trade with India; and so far at least, its authenticity is unquestionable, being corroborated by other documents that are not liable to the smallest suspicion.--E.
[Footnote 402: Hakluyt, II. 382.]
In the year 1583, I ,Ralph Fitch of London, merchant, being desirous to see the countries of the Eastern India, went in company with Mr John Newbery, merchant, who had been once before at Ormus, together with William Leedes, jeweller, and James Story, painter; being chiefly sent forth by the right worshipful Sir Edward Osburn, knight, and Mr Richard Staper, citizens and merchants of London. We shipped ourselves in a ship called the Tiger of London, in which we went to Tripoly in Syria, whence we went with the caravan to Aleppo in seven days. Finding good company at Aleppo, we went from thence to Birra [Bir,] which is two days and a half journey with camels.
Bir is a small town, but abounding in provisions, near which runs the river Euphrates. We here purchased a boat, and agreed with a master and boatmen to carry us to Babylon [Bagdat]. These boats serve only for one voyage, as the stream is so rapid that they cannot return. They carry passengers to a town called Felugia [Feluchia], where the boat has to be sold for very little money, what cost fifty pieces at Bir bringing only seven or eight at that place. From Bir to Feluchia is a journey of sixteen days; but it is not good for one boat to go alone, as if it should chance to break, it would be difficult to save the goods from the Arabs, who are always robbing thereabouts, and it is necessary to keep good watch in the night, when the boat is made fast, as the Arabs are great thieves, and will swim on board to steal your goods, and then flee away. Against them a musket is a good weapon, as they are much afraid of fire-arms. Between Bir and Feluchia, there are certain places on the Euphrates where you have to pay custom, being so many medins for a some or camel's load, together with certain quantities of raisins and soap, which are for the sons of Aborise, who is lord of the Arabs and of that great desert, and hath some villages on the river. Feluchia, where the goods coming from Bir are unladed, is a small village, from whence you go to Bagdat in one day.
Babylon, or Bagdat, is not a very large town, but is very populous, and much frequented by strangers, being the centre of intercourse between Persia, Turkey, and Arabia, caravans going frequently from it to these and other countries. It is well supplied with provisions, which are brought from Armenia down the river Tigris upon rafts made of goat-skin bags blown full of wind, over which boards are laid, on which the goods are loaded. When these are discharged, the skin bags are opened and emptied of air, and are then carried back to Armenia on camels to serve again. Bagdat belonged formerly to Persia, but is now subject to the Turks. Over against Bagdat, on the other side of the Tigris, is a very fair village, to which there is a passage across from Bagdat by a long bridge of boats, connected by a vast iron chain made fast at each side of the river. When any boats have to pass up or down the river, a passage is made for them by removing some of the boats of this bridge.
The Tower of Babel is on this side of the Tigris towards Arabia, about seven or eight miles from Bagdat, being now ruined on all sides, and with the ruins thereof hath made a little mountain, so that no shape or form of a tower remains. It was built of bricks dried in the sun, having canes and leaves of the palm-tree laid between the courses of bricks. It stands in a great plain between the Tigris and Euphrates, and no entrance can be any where seen for going into it.
Near the river Euphrates, two days journey from Bagdat, in a field near a place called Ait, there is a hole in the ground which continually throws out boiling pitch accompanied by a filthy smoke, the pitch flowing into a great field which is always full of it. The Moors call this opening the mouth of hell; and on account of the great abundance of the pitch, the people of the country daub all their boats two or three inches thick with it on the outside, so that no water can enter them. These boats are called danec. When there is plenty of water in the Tigris, the boats may go down from Bagdat to Basora in eight or nine days; but when the water is low it requires a longer time.
In times past, Basora belonged to the Arabs, but is now subject to the Turks. Yet there are some Arabs that the Turks cannot subdue, as they occupy certain islands in the great river Euphrates, which the Turks have never been able to conquer. These Arabs are all thieves, and have no settled dwelling, but remove from place to place with their camels, horses, goats, wives, children, and household goods. They wear large blue gowns; their wives having their ears and noses full of copper and silver rings, and wear copper rings on their legs. Basora is near the head of the gulf of Persia, and drives a great trade in spiceries and drugs, which come from Ormus. The country round produces abundance of white rice and dates, with which they supply Bagdat and all the country, sending likewise to Ormus and India. I went from Basora to Ormus, down the gulf of Persia, in a ship made of boards sewed together with cayro, which is a thread made of the husks of coco-nuts, and having certain canes, or leaves, or straw, sewed upon the seams between the boards, so that these vessels leak very much. Having Persia on our left hand, and Arabia on our right, we passed many islands, and among others the famous isle of Baharin, or Bahrain, from which come the best and roundest orient pearls.
Ormus is an island about 25 or 30 miles in circuit, which is perhaps the most arid and barren island in the world, as it produces nothing but salt, all its water, wood, provisions, and every other necessary, coming from Persia, which is about 12 miles distant; but all the other islands thereabout are very fertile, and from them provisions are sent to Ormus. The Portuguese have here a castle near the sea, with a captain and a competent garrison, part of which dwell in the castle and part in the town; in which likewise dwell merchants from all nations, together with many Moors and Gentiles. This place has a great trade in spices, drugs, silk, cloth of silk, fine tapestry of Persia, great store of pearls from Bahrain, which are the best of all pearls, and many horses from Persia which supply all India. Their king is a Moor, or Mahomedan, who is chosen by the Portuguese, and is entirely under subjection to them. Their women are very strangely attired, wearing many rings set with jewels on their ears, noses, necks, arms, and legs, and locks of gold and silver in their ears, and a long bar of gold upon the sides of their noses. The holes in their ears are worn so wide with the weight of their jewels, that one may thrust three fingers into them.
Very shortly after our arrival at Ormus we were put into prison, by order of Don Mathias de Albuquerque, the governor of the castle, and had part of our goods taken from us; and on the 11th October he shipped us from thence, sending us to the viceroy at Goa, who at that time was Don Francisco de Mascarenhas. The ship in which we were embarked belonged to the captain, who carried in it 124 horses for sale. All goods carried to Goa in a ship wherein there are horses pay no duties; but if there are no horses, you then pay eight in the hundred for your goods. The first city of India at which we arrived on the 5th November, after passing the coast of Zindi [Sindi], was named Diu, which stands in an island on the coast of the kingdom of Cambaia, or Gujrat, and is the strongest town belonging to the Portuguese in those parts. It is but small, yet abounds in merchandise, as they here load many ships with different kinds of goods for the straits of Mecca or the Red Sea, Ormus, and other places; these ships belong both to Christians and Moors, but the latter are not permitted to pass unless they have a Portuguese licence. Cambaietta, or Cambay, is the chief city of that province, being great and populous and well built for a city of the gentiles. When there happens a famine the natives sell their children for a low price. The last king of Cambaia was sultan Badur, who was slain at the siege of Diu, and shortly after the capital city was reduced by the great Mogor [Mogul], who is king of Agra and Delhi, forty days journey from thence. Here the women wear upon their arms a vast number of ivory rings, in which they take so much pride that they would rather go without their meat than want their bracelets.
Going from Diu, we came to Damaun, the second town of the Portuguese in the country of Cambaia, forty leagues from Diu. This place, which has no trade but in corn and rice, has many villages under its jurisdiction, which the Portuguese possess quietly during peace, but in time of war they are all occupied by the enemy. From Damaun we passed to Basaim [Baseen], and from thence to Tanna in the island of Salsette, at both which places the only trade is in rice and corn. The 10th November we arrived at Chaul on the firm land, at which place there are two towns, one belonging to the Portuguese and the other to the Moors. That of the Portuguese is nearest the sea, commanding the bay, and is walled round; and a little above it is the Moors town, subject to a king called Xa-Maluco. At this place is a great trade for all kinds of spices, drugs, silk raw and manufactured, sandal-wood, elephants' teeth, much China work, and a great deal of sugar made from the nut called gagara [coco]. The tree on which it grows is called the palmer, and is the most profitable tree in the world. It always bears fruit, and yields wine, oil, sugar, vinegar, cordage, coals, or fuel; of the leaves are made thatch for houses, sails for ships, and mats to sit or lie on; of the branches are made houses, and brooms wherewith they sweep them; of the wood ships. The wine issues from the top of the tree, and is procured thus: They cut a branch, binding it hard, and hang an earthen pot under the cut end, which they empty every evening and morning; and still the juice, putting raisins into it, by which it becometh strong wine in a short time. Many ships come here from all parts of India, and from Ormus and Mecca, so that there are many Moors and Gentiles at this place. The natives have a strange superstition, worshipping a cow, and having cow's dung in great veneration, insomuch that they paint or daub the walls of their houses with it. They kill no animal whatever, not so much as a louse, holding it a crime to take away life. They eat no flesh, living entirely on roots, rice, and milk. When a man dies, his living wife is burnt along with his body, if she be alive; and if she will not, her head is shaven, and she is ever after held in low esteem. They consider it a great sin to bury dead bodies, as they would engender many worms and other vermin, and when the bodies were consumed these worms would lack sustenance; wherefore they burn their dead. In all Guzerat they kill nothing; and in the town of Cambay they have hospitals for lame dogs and cats, and for birds, and they even provide food for the ants.
Goa is the chief city of the Portuguese in India, in which their viceroy resides and holds his court. It stands in an island about 25 or 30 miles in circumference, being a fine city and very handsome for an Indian town. The island is fertile and full of gardens and orchards, with many palmer trees, and several villages. Here are many merchants of all nations. The fleet which sails every year from Portugal, consisting of four, five, or six great ships, comes first here, arriving mostly in September, and remaining there forty or fifty days. It then goes to Cochin, where the ships take in pepper for Portugal. Often one ship loads entirely at Goa, and the rest go to Cochin, which is 100 leagues to the south. Goa stands in the country of Adel Khan, which is six or seven days journey inland, the chief city being Bisapor [Bejapoor].
On our arrival in Goa we were thrown into prison, and examined before the justice, who demanded us to produce letters [of licence?], and charged us with being spies; but they could prove nothing against us. We continued in prison till the 22d December, when we were set at liberty, putting in surety for 2000 ducats not to depart from the town. Our surety was one Andreas Taborer, who was procured for us by father Stevens, an English Jesuit whom we found there, and another religious man, a friend of his. We paid 2150 ducats into the hands of Andreas Taborer, our surety, who still demanded more; on which we petitioned the viceroy and justice to order us our money again, seeing they had it near five months, and could prove nothing against us. But the viceroy gave us a sharp answer, saying, we should be better sifted ere long, and that they had other matter against us. Upon this we determined to attempt recovering our liberty, rather than run the risk of remaining as slaves for ever in the country, and besides it was said we were to have the strapado. Wherefore, on the 5th of April 1585 in the morning, we removed secretly from Goa; and getting across the river, we travelled two days on foot in great fear, not knowing the way, as having no guide, and not daring to trust any one.
One of the first towns we came to is called Bellergan (?), where there is a great market of diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and many other precious stones. From thence we went to Bejapoor, a very large city where the king keeps his court, in which there are many Gentiles, who are gross idolaters, having their idols standing in the woods, which they call pagodas. Some of these are like a cow, some like a monkey, some like a buffalo, others resemble a peacock, and others like the devil. In this country are many elephants, which they employ in their wars. They have great abundance of gold and silver, and their houses are lofty and well built. From thence we went to Galconda, the king of which is called Cutub de Lashach. In this country, in the kingdom of Adel Khan, and in the Decan, those diamonds are found which are called of the old water. Golconda is a pleasant fair town, having good and handsome houses of brick and timber, and it abounds with excellent fruits and good water. It is here very hot, and both men and women go about with only a cloth bound about their middles, without any other clothing. The winter begins here about the last of May.
About eight days journey from thence is a sea port called Masulipatan, toward the gulf of Bengal, to which many ships come out of India, Pegu, and Sumatra, richly laden with spiceries, pepper, and other commodities. The country is very fruitful. From thence I went to Servidone (?) which is a fine country, its king being called the king of bread. The houses here are all built of loam and thatched. The country contains many Moors and Gentiles, but there is not much religion among them. From thence I went to Bellapore, and so to Barrampore, which is in the country of Zelabdim Echebar the great Mogor. In this place their money is of silver, round and thick, to the value of twenty-pence. It is a great and populous country; and in their winter, which is in June, July, and August, there is no passing the streets except on horseback, the waters are so high. In this country they make great quantities of cotton cloth, both white and painted, and the land produces great abundance of corn and rice. In the towns and villages through which we passed, we found many marriages celebrated between boys of eight or ten years old, and girls of five or six. These youthful couples did ride both on one horse, very bravely dressed, and were carried about the streets with great piping and playing, after which they returned home and banqueted on rice and fruits, dancing most of the night, and so ended the marriage, which is not consumated till the bride be ten years old. We were told they married their children thus young, because when a man dies his wife is burnt along with him; and by this device they secure a father-in-law, in case of the father's death, to assist in bringing up the children that are thus early married, thus taking care not to leave their sons without wives, or their daughters without husbands.
From thence we went to Mandoway (?), a very strong town, which was besieged for twelve years by Echebar before he could reduce it. It stands on a very great high rock, as do most of their castles, and is of very great circuit. From thence we went to Vgini (?) and Serringe (?), where we overtook the ambassador of Zelabdim Echebar, attended by a prodigious retinue of men, elephants, and camels. In this district there is a great trade carried on in cotton, and cloths made of cotton, and great store of drugs. From thence we went to Agra, passing many rivers which were much swollen by the rains, so that in crossing them we had often to swim for our lives.
Agra is a very great and populous city built of stone, having large and handsome streets, upon a fine river which falls into the gulf of Bengal, and has a strong and handsome castle with a broad and deep ditch. It is inhabited by many Moors and Gentiles, the king being Zelabdim Echebar, called for the most part the great Mogor. From thence we went to Fatepore, where the king ordinarily resides and holds his court, which is called Derican. This town is larger than Agra, but the streets and houses are by no means so good, but it is inhabited by a vast multitude of people, both Moors and Gentiles. In Agra and Fatepoor, the king is said to have 1000 elephants, 30,000 horses, 1400 tame deer, 800 concubines, and such numbers of ounces, tigers, buffaloes, game-cocks, and hawks as is quite incredible. Agra and Fatepoor are two great cities, either of them larger than London, and very populous, at the distance of 12 miles from each other. The whole road between these places is one continued market of provisions and other articles, and is constantly as full of people as a street or market in a great and populous town. These people have many fine carts, many of which are richly carved and gilt, having two wheels, and are drawn by two little bulls, not much larger than our biggest English dogs, which run with these carts as fast as any horse, carrying two or three men in each cart: They are covered with silk or fine cloth, and are used like our coaches in England. There is a great resort of merchants to this place from Persia and all parts of India, and vast quantities of merchandise, such as silks, cloths, and precious stones, diamonds, rubies, and pearls. The king is dressed in a white cabie made like a shirt, and tied with strings on one side, having a small cloth on his head, often coloured red and yellow. None enter into his apartments, except the eunuchs who have charge of his women.
We remained in Fatepore till the 28th of September 1585, when Mr John Newbery took his journey towards Lahore, intending to go from thence through Persia to Aleppo or Constantinople, whichever he could get the readiest passage to; and he directed me to proceed to Bengal and Pegu, promising me, if it pleased God, to meet me at Bengal within two years with a ship from England. I left William Leades the jeweller at Fatepore, in the service of the king Zelabdim Achebar, who gave him good entertainment, giving a house and five slaves, with a horse, and six S.S. in money daily. I went from Agra to Satagam in Bengal, in company with 180 boats loaded with salt, opium, hinge, lead, carpets, and various other commodities, down the river Jemena [Jumna]; the chief merchants being Moors.
In this country they have many strange ceremonies. The bramins, who are their priests, come to the water having a string about their necks, and with many ceremonies lave the water with both their hands, turning the string with both their hands in several manners; and though it be never so cold, they wash themselves regularly at all times. These gentiles eat no flesh, neither do they kill anything, but live on rice, butter, milk, and fruits. They pray in the water naked; and both dress and eat their food naked. For penance, they lie flat on the earth, then rise up and turn themselves round 30 or 40 times, lifting their hands to the sun, and kiss the earth with their arms and legs stretched out; every time they lie down making a score on the ground with their fingers, that they may know when the prescribed number of prostrations is finished. Every morning the Bramins mark their foreheads, ears, and throats, with a kind of yellow paint or earth; having some old men among them, who go about with a box of yellow powder, marking them on the head and neck as they meet them. Their women come in troops of 10, 20, and 30 together to the water side singing, where they wash themselves and go through their ceremonies, and then mark themselves, and so depart singing. Their daughters are married at ten years of age, and the men may have seven wives each. They are a crafty people, worse than the Jews. When they salute one another, they say, Rame, rame.
From Agra I came to Prage, where the river Jumna enters into the mighty Ganges, and there loses its name. The Ganges comes out of the north-west, and runs east to discharge its waters into the gulf of Bengal. In these parts there are many tigers, and vast quantities of partridges and turtle-doves, besides many other kinds of birds. There are multitudes of beggars in these countries, called Schesche, which go entirely naked. I here saw one who was a monster among the rest. He had no clothes whatever, his beard being very long, and the hair of his head was so long and plentiful, that it covered his nakedness. The nails on some of his fingers were two inches long, as he would cut nothing from him; and besides he never spake, being constantly accompanied by eight or ten others, who spoke for him. If any one spoke to him, he laid his hand on his breast and bowed, but without speaking, for he would not have spoken to the king.
We went from Prage down the Ganges, which is here very broad, and abounds in various wild-fowl, as swans, geese, cranes, and many others, the country on both sides being very fertile and populous. For the most part the men have their faces shaven, but wear the hair of their heads very long; though some have their crowns shaved, and others have all their heads shaven except the crown. The water of the river Ganges is very sweet and pleasant, having many islands, and the adjoining country is very fertile. We stopt at Bannaras [Benares], a large town in which great quantities of cotton-cloths are made, and sashes for the moors. In this place all the inhabitants are gentiles, and the grossest idolaters I ever saw. To this town the gentiles come on pilgrimages out of far distant countries. Along the side of the river there are many fair houses, in all or most of which they have ill-favoured images made of stone or wood; some like lions, leopards, or monkeys; some like men and women; others like peacocks; and others like the devil, having four arms and four hands. These all sit cross-legged, some with one thing in their hands, and others with other things; and by break of day or before, numbers of men and women come out of the town to these places, and wash in the Ganges. On mounds of earth made for the purpose, there are divers old men who sit praying, and who give the people three or four straws, which they hold between their fingers when they bathe in the Ganges; and some sit to mark them in the forehead: And the devotees have each a cloth with a small quantity of rice, barley, or money, which they give to these old men when they have washed. They then go to one or other of the idols, where they present their sacrifices. When they have finished their washings oblations and charities, the old men say certain prayers by which they are all sanctified.
In divers places there stand a kind of images, called Ada in their language, having four hands with claws; and they have sundry carved stones on which they pour water, and lay thereon some rice, wheat, barley and other things. Likewise they have a great place built of stone, like a well, with steps to go down, in which the water is very foul and stinking, through the great quantity of flowers which are continually thrown into the water: Yet there are always many people in that water, for they say that it purifies them from their sins, because, as they allege, God washed himself in that place. They even gather up the sand or mud from the bottom, which they esteem holy. They never pray but in the water, in which they wash themselves over head, laving up the water in both hands, and turning themselves about, they drink a little of the water three times, and then go to the idols which stand in the houses already mentioned. Some take of the water, with which they wash a place of their own length, and then lie down stretched out, rising and lying down, and kissing the ground twenty or thirty times, yet keeping their right foot all the time in the same place. Some make their ceremonies with fifteen or sixteen pots, little and great, ringing a little bell when they make their mixtures, ten or twelve times. They make a circle of water round about their pots and pray, divers sitting by them, and one in particular who reaches the pots to them; and they say certain words many times over the pots, and when they have done, they go to their idols, before which they strew their sacrifices, which they think very holy, and mark many of those who sit by in the foreheads, which they esteem highly. There sometimes come fifty or even an hundred together, to wash at this well, and to sacrifice to these idols.
In some of these idol houses, there are people who stand by them in warm weather, fanning them as if to cool them; and when they see any company coming, they ring a little bell which hangs beside them, when many give them alms, particularly those who come out of the country. Many of these idols are black and have brazen claws very long, and some ride upon peacocks, or on very ill-favoured fowls, having long hawk's bills, some like one thing and some like another, but none have good faces. Among the rest, there is one held in great veneration, as they allege be gives them all things, both food and raiment, and one always sits beside this idol with a fan, as if to cool him. Here some are burned to ashes, and some only scorched in the fire and thrown into the river, where the dogs and foxes come presently and eat them. Here the wives are burned along with the bodies of their deceased husbands, and if they will not, their heads are shaven and they are not afterwards esteemed.
The people go all naked, except a small cloth about their middles. The women have their necks, arms, and ears decorated with rings of silver, copper, and tin, and with round hoops of ivory, adorned with amber stones and many agates, and have their foreheads marked with a great red spot, whence a stroke of red goes up the crown, and one to each side. In their winter, which is in May, the men wear quilted gowns of cotton, like to our counterpanes, and quilted caps like our grocers large mortars, with a slit to look out at, tied beneath their ears. When a man or woman is sick and like to die, they are laid all night before the idols, either to help their sickness or make an end of them. If they do not mend that night, the friends come and sit up with them, and cry for some time, after which they take them to the side of the river, laying them on a raft of reeds, and so let them float down the river.
When they are married the man and woman come to the water side, where there is an old bramin or priest, a cow and calf, or a cow with calf. Then the man and woman, together with the cow and calf, go into the river, giving the old bramin a piece of cloth four yards long, and a basket cross-bound, in which are sundry things. The bramin lays the cloth on the back of the cow, after which he takes hold of the end of the cow's tail, and says certain words. The woman has a brass or copper pot full of water; the man takes hold of the bramin with one hand, and the woman with the other, all having hold of the cow by the tail, on which they pour water from the pot, so that it runs on all their hands. They then lave up water with their hands, and the bramin ties the man and woman together by their clothes. When this is done, they go round about the cow and calf, and then give some alms to the poor, who are always present, and to the bramin or priest they give the cow and calf, after which they go to several of the idols, where they offer money, lying down flat on the ground before the idol, and kissing the earth several times, after which they go away. Their chief idols are black and very ugly, with monstrous mouths, having their ears gilded and full of jewels, their teeth and eyes of gold, silver, or glass, and carrying sundry things in their hands. You may not enter into the houses where they stand with your shoes on. In these houses there are lamps continually burning before the idols.
From Benares I went down the Ganges to Patenaw [Patna], passing many fair towns and a very fertile country, in which way many great rivers enter the Ganges, some as large as itself, by which it becomes so broad that in time of the rains you cannot see across. The scorched bodies which are thrown into the water swim on the surface, the men with their faces down, and the women with theirs up. I thought they had tied some weight to their bodies for this purpose, but was told no such thing was done. There are many thieves in this country, who roam up and down like the Arabs, having no fixed abode. Here the women are so decked with silver and copper that it is strange to see them, and they wear so many rings on their toes that they cannot use shoes. Here at Patna they find gold in this manner: They dig deep pits in the earth, and wash the earth in large holes, and in these they find gold, building the pits round about with bricks, to prevent the earth from falling in.
Patna is a long and large town, being formerly a separate kingdom, but is now under subjection to the great Mogor. The men are tall and slender, and have many old people among them. The houses are very simple, being made of earth and covered with straw, and the streets are very large. There is here a great trade in cotton and cotton cloth, likewise great quantities of sugar, which is carried to Bengal and India, much opium, and other commodities. He that is chief here under the king is called Tipperdas, and is held in much estimation by the people. Here in Patna I saw a dissembling prophet, who sat on a horse in the market-place, making as if he were asleep, and many of the people came and touched his feet with their hands, which they then kissed. They took him for a great man, but in my opinion he was only a lazy lubber, whom I left sleeping there. The people of these countries are much given to these dissembling hypocrites.
From Patna I went to Tanda in the land of Gouren, which is in the country of Bengal. This is a place of great trade in cotton and cotton cloth, formerly a kingdom, but now subject to the great Mogor. The people are great idolaters, going naked with only a cloth about their middles, and the country hath many tigers, wild buffaloes, and wild fowl. Tanda is about a league from the river Ganges, as in times past the river flowed over its banks in the rainy season, and drowned a considerable extent of country with many villages, and so it yet remains, and the old bed of the river still remains dry, by which means the city now stands at a distance from the water. From Agra I was five months coming down the Jumna and the Ganges to Bengal, but it may be sailed in much shorter time.
I went from Bengal into the country of Couche, which is 25 days journey north from Tanda. The king is a Gentile, named Suckel Counse. His country is very extensive, and reaches to within no great distance of Cauchin China, whence they are said to procure pepper. The port is called Cacchegate. All the country is set with bamboos or canes made sharp at both ends, and driven into the earth, and they can let in the water and drown the country above knee-deep, so that neither men nor horses can pass; and in case of any wars, they poison all the waters. The people are all Gentiles, who kill nothing, having their ears marvellously great and a span long, which they draw out by various devices when young. They have much silk and musk, and cloth made of cotton. They have hospitals for sheep, goats, dogs, cats, birds, and all kinds of living creatures, which they keep when old and lame until they die. If a man bring any living creature into this country, they will give money for it or other victuals, and either let it go at large or keep it in their hospitals. They even give food to the ants. Their small money is almonds, which they often eat.
From thence I returned to Hugeli [Hoogly in Bengal], which is the place where the Portuguese have their residence in Bengal, being in lat. 23° N. About a league from it is Satagan, called by the Portuguese Porto Piqueno, or the little port. We went through the wilderness, because the right way was infested by robbers. In passing through the country of Gouren we found few villages, being almost all wilderness, in which were many buffaloes, wild swine, and deer, with many tigers, the grass being everywhere as tall as a man. Not far from Porto Piqueno, to the south-westwards, and in the country of Orixa, is a sea-port called Angeli. It was formerly a separate kingdom, the king being a great friend to strangers; but was afterwards taken by the king of Patna, who did not enjoy it long, being himself conquered by the king of Delhi, Agra, and Cambaia, Zelabdim Echebar. Orissa is six days journey south-westwards from Satagan. In this place there is much, rice, and cloth made of cotton; likewise great store of cloth made of grass, which they call Yerva, resembling silk, of which they make excellent cloth, which is sent to India and other places. To this haven of Ingelly there come many ships every year out of India, Negapatnam, Sumatra, Malacca, and many other places, and load from hence great quantities of rice, much cotton cloths, sugar and long pepper, and great store of butter and other provisions for India. Satagan is a very fair city for one belonging to the Moors, and is very plentiful in all things. In Bengal they have every day a great market or fair, called chandeau, in one place or other, and they have many boats called pericose, with which they go from place to place to buy rice and many other things. These boats are rowed by 24 or 26 oars, and are of great burden, but are quite open. The gentiles hold the water of the Ganges in great reverence; for even if they have good water close at hand, they will send for water from the Ganges at a great distance. If they have not enough of it to drink, they will sprinkle a little of it upon themselves, thinking it very salutary.
From Satagan I travelled by the country of the King of Tippara, or Porto Grande. The Mogores or Mogen [Moguls] have almost continual wars with Tiperah; the Mogen of the kingdom of Recon and Rame are stronger than the King of Tiperah, so that Cittigong or Porto Grande is often under the dominion of the king of Recon. There is a country four days journey from Couche called Bottanter, the principal city of which is Bottia, and the king is called Dermain. The people are tall, strong, and very swift. Many merchants come here out of China, and it is said even from Muscovy and Tartary, to purchase musk, cambals, agates, silk, pepper, and saffron, like the saffron of Persia. This country is very great, being not less than three months journey in extent, and contains many high mountains, one of them so steep and high that it may be perfectly seen at the distance of six days journey. There are people on these mountains having ears a span long, and they call such as have not long ears asses. They say that from these mountains they see ships sailing on the sea, but know not whence they come nor whither they go. There are merchants who come out of the east from under the sun, which is from China, having no beards, who say their country is warm; but others come from the north, on the other side of the mountains, where it is very cold. These merchants from the north are apparelled in woollen cloth and hats, with close white hose or breeches and boots, who come from Muscovy or Tartary. These report that they have excellent horses in their country, but very small; some individuals possessing four, five, or six hundred horses and cattle. These people live mostly on milk and flesh. They cut off the tails of their cows, and sell them very dear, as they are in high request in those parts. The rump is only a span long, but the hair is a yard in length. These tails are used for show, to hang upon the heads of elephants, and are much sought after in Pegu and China.
From Chittigong in Bengal, I went to Bacola, the king of which country is a Gentile of an excellent disposition, who is particularly fond of shooting with a gun. His country is large and fertile, having great abundance of rice, and manufactures much silk, and cloths of cotton. The houses of this city are good and well built, with large streets. The people go naked, except a cloth round their waists, and the women wear many silver hoops about their necks and arms, and rings of silver, copper, and ivory about their legs. From thence I went to Serrepore upon the Ganges, the king or rajah of which is called Chondery. They are all hereabouts in rebellion against the great Mogul, for there are so many rivers and islands that they escape from one to another, so that his horsemen cannot prevail against them. Great store of cotton cloth is made here. Sinnergan is a town six leagues from Serrepore, where the best and finest cotton cloth of all the east is made.[423. The chief king of all those countries is called Isa-khan, being supreme over all the other kings or rajahs, and is a great friend to the Christians. Here, as in most parts of India, the houses are very small and covered with straw, having a few mats hung round the walls and over the door-way, to keep out tigers and foxes. They live on rice, milk, and fruits, eating no flesh and killing no animals; and though many of them are very rich, their sole article of dress is a small cloth before them. From hence they send great quantities of cotton cloths and much rice, all over India, Pegu, Malacca, Sumatra, and other places.
I went from Serrepore the 28th of November 1586 for Pegu, in a small ship or foist, commanded by one Albert Caravallos, and sailing down the Ganges, we passed by the island of Sundiva, Porto grande, or Chittigong, in the country of Tiperah, and the kingdom of Recon and Mogen, leaving all on our left hand, our course being south by east, with the wind at north-west, which brought us to the bar of Negrais in Pegu. Had we met with a foul wind, we must have thrown many things overboard, for we were so lumbered with people and goods, even on the deck, that there was scarce a place to sit down upon. From Bengal to Pegu is 90 leagues. We entered the bar of Negrais [at the mouth of the western branch of the river of Ava], which is an excellent bar, having four fathoms water where shallowest. Three days afterwards we came to Cosmin, a very pretty town, pleasantly situated and abounding in all things. The people are tall and well disposed; the women white, round faced, and having small eyes. The houses are high built, set upon great high posts, and they go up to them by means of ladders for fear of the tigers, which are very numerous. The country is very fertile, abounding in great figs, oranges, coconuts, and other fruits. The land is very high on the sea coast, but after getting within the bar, it is very low and much intersected with rivers, so that they go everywhere in boats, which they call paraos, in which many of them dwell with their wives and children.
From the bar of Negrais to the city of Pegu, is ten days journey by the rivers. We went from Cosmin to Pegu in paraos or boats, and passing up the river we came to Medon, a very pretty town, having a wonderful number of paraos, for they dwell in them, and hold markets on the water. In rowing up and down with their commodities in these boats, they have a great sombrero or umbrella over their heads, to defend them from the sun, as broad and round as a great cart wheel, made of the leaves of the coco or the fig tree, which are very light. From Medon we went to Dela, where there are 18 or 20 great long houses, where they tame and keep many elephants belonging to the king, as elephants are caught in the wilderness near this place. From Dela we went to Cirian [Siriam], a good town having an excellent sea-port, to which come many ships from Mecca, Malacca, Sumatra, and other places; and there the ships discharge their cargoes, and send up their goods in paraos to Pegu. From Siriam we went to Macao, a pretty town, where we left the boats, and in the morning taking delingeges, which are a kind of couches made of cords and quilted cloth, carried on a stang, or long pole, by three or four men, we came to Pegu the same day.
Pegu is a great strong and fair city, having walls of stone and great ditches all round about. It consists of two towns, the old and the new. In the old town dwell all the stranger merchants, and very many native merchants, and all the goods are sold in the old town, which is very large, and hath many extensive suburbs all round about it, all the houses being of bamboo canes and covered with straw. In your house, however, you have a warehouse, which they call a godown, built of bricks, in which to keep your goods, as often the city takes fire, and four or five hundred houses are burnt down, so that these godowns are very useful to save your goods. The king with all his nobility and gentry dwell in the new town, which is a great and populous city, entirely square with fair walls, and a great ditch all round about full of water, in which are many crocodiles. It has twenty gates, five on each side of the square, all built of stone. There are also many turrets for sentinels, made of wood and splendidly gilded. The streets are the handsomest I ever saw, all as straight as a line from one gate to the other, and so broad that ten or twelve men may ride abreast through them. On both sides, at every door, there are palmer trees planted, which bear coco-nuts, and which make a fine shew as well as a commodious shade, so that the people may walk all day in the shade. The houses are of wood, covered with tiles.
The palace of the king stands in the middle of this city, and is walled and ditched all round, all the houses within being of wood very sumptuously gilded, and the fore-front is of very rich workmanship, all gilded in a very costly manner. The pagoda, or house in which his idols stand, is covered with tiles of silver, and all the walls are gilt over with gold. Within the first gate of the palace is a very large court, on both sides of which are the houses for the king's elephants, which are wonderfully large and handsome, and are trained for war and for the king's service. Among the rest, he has four white elephants, which are a great rarity, no other king having any but he; and were any other king to have any, he would send for it, and if refused would go to war for it, and would rather lose a great part of his kingdom than not have the elephant. When any white elephant is brought to the king, all the merchants in the city are commanded to go and visit him, on which occasion each individual makes a present of half a ducat, which amounts to a good round sum, as there are a vast many merchants, after which present you may go and see them at your pleasure, although they stand in the king's house. Among his titles, the king takes that of king of the white elephants. They do great honour and service to these white elephants, every one of them having a house gilded with gold, and getting their food in vessels of gilt silver. Every day when they go to the river to wash, each goes under a canopy of cloth of gold or silk, carried by six or eight men, and eight or ten men go before each, playing on drums, shawms, and other instruments. When each has washed and is come out of the river, he has a gentleman to wash his feet in a silver basin, which office is appointed by the king. There is no such account made of the black elephants, be they never so great, and some of them are wonderfully large and handsome, some being nine cubits high.
The king has a very large place, about a mile from Pegu, for catching wild elephants, in a great grove or wood, having a fair court in the middle. There are many huntsmen, who go into the wilderness with she-elephants, trained for the purpose, each huntsman having five or six which are anointed with a certain ointment to entice the wild males to follow them. When they have brought a wild elephant within their snares, the hunters send word to the town, on which many horsemen and footmen go out, and force the wild elephant to enter into a narrow way leading to the inner inclosure, and when the he and she are in, then is the gate shut upon them. They then get the female out, and when the male finds himself alone and entrapped, he cries out and sheds tears, running against the enclosure, which is made of strong trees, and some of them break their tusks in endeavouring to force their way out. The people then goad him with pointed canes, till they force him into a narrow stall, in which he is securely fastened with strong ropes about his body and legs, and is left there for three or four days without food or drink. Then they bring a female to him, with food and drink, and unbind the ropes, and he becomes tame in three or four days. When they take the elephants to war, they fix a frame of wood on their backs with great ropes, upon which sit four or six men, who fight with guns, bows and arrows, darts, and other weapons; and it is said that the elephant's hide is so thick that a musket ball will not pierce them, except in some tender place.
The weapons of these people are very bad, their swords being short and blunt at the points. They have arquebusses also, but they shoot very badly with them. The king keeps great state, sitting in public twice every day, having all his nobles, which they call shemines, sitting on each side at a good distance, and a numerous guard on the outside of all, so that the hall, or court, is very large. If any one wish to speak to the king, he maketh three profound reverences, when he enters, in the mid way, and when he comes near the king; at each of these he kneels down, holds his hands above his head, and bows with his head to the ground three times. He then sits down to speak to the king, and if favoured is allowed to come near, within three or four paces, but otherwise is made to sit at a greater distance. When the king goes to war he is accompanied by a great military force. While I was in Pegu, he went to Odia, in the kingdom of Siam, with 300,000 men and 5000 elephants. His particular guard was 30,000. When the king rides abroad, he is accompanied by a strong guard and many nobles, and often rides on an elephant having a great castle on its back superbly gilded; sometimes he travels on a great frame of wood like a horse-litter, having a small house or canopy upon it, covered overhead, and open at the sides, which is all splendidly gilded with gold, and adorned with many rubies and sapphires, of which he hath an infinite store, as a vast many of them are found in this country. This couch or litter is called serrion in their language, and is carried on the shoulders of 16 or 18 men. On these occasions, there is much triumphing and shouting made before the king, by great numbers of men and women.
This king has little force by sea, having very few ships. He has houses quite full of gold and silver, both of which are often coming in to him, but very little goes out again, so that he makes little account of it, and this vast treasury is always open to inspection, in a great walled court with two gates, which are always open to all men. In this court there are four houses very richly gilded and covered with leaden roofs, in each of which is a pagod or idol, of huge stature and vast value. In the first of these houses is the image of a king, all in gold, having a golden crown on his head richly set with large rubies and sapphires, and round about are the images of four children all in gold. In the second house is the image of a man in silver, of prodigious size, as high as a house, insomuch that the foot is as long as the stature of a man. This figure is in a sitting posture, having a crown on its head, richly adorned with precious stones. In the third house is the statue of a man in brass, still larger than the former, with a rich crown on its head. In the fourth house is another brazen statue, still larger than the former, having also a crown on its head richly adorned with jewels. In another court not far from this, there are four other pagodas or idols of wonderful size, made of copper, which were formed in the places in which they now stand, being of such enormous size that they could not be removed. These stand in four separate houses, and are gilded all over except their heads, which resemble black-a-moors. The expenses of these people in gilding their images are quite enormous. The king has only one wife, but above 300 concubines, by whom he is said to have 80 or 90 children. He sits in judgment every day, on which occasion the applicants use no speech, but give up their supplications in writing, being upon long slips of the leaves of a tree, a yard long and about two inches broad, written with a pointed iron or stile like a bodkin. He who gives in his application, stands at some distance carrying a present. If his application is to be complied with, his present is accepted and his request granted; but if his suit be denied he returns home with his present.
There are few commodities in India which serve for trade at Pegu, except opium of Cambaia, painted cottons from San Thome or Masulipatam, and white cloth of Bengal, vast quantities of which are sold here. They bring likewise much cotton yarn, dyed red with a root called saia, which never loses its colour, a great quantity of which is sold yearly in Pegu at a good profit. The ships from Bengal, San Thome, and Masulipatam, come to the bar of Negrais and to Cosmin. To Martaban, another sea-port in the kingdom of Pegu, many ships come from Malacca, with sandal-wood, porcelains, and other wares of China, camphor of Borneo, and pepper from Acheen in the island of Sumatra. To Siriam, likewise a port of Pegu, ships come from Mecca with woollen cloth, scarlet, velvets, opium, and other goods.
In Pegu there are eight brokers called tareghe, which are bound to sell your goods at the prices they are worth, receiving as their fee two in the hundred, for which they are bound to make good the price, because you sell your goods on their word. If the broker do not pay you on the day appointed, you may take him home to your house and keep him there, which is a great shame for him. And, if he do not now pay you immediately, you may take his wife, children, and slaves, and bind them at your door in the sun; for such is the law of the country. Their current money is of brass, which they call ganza, with which you may buy gold, silver, rubies, musk, and all other things. Gold and silver is reckoned merchandise, and is worth sometimes more and sometimes less, like all other wares, according to the supply and demand. The ganza or brass money goes by weight, which they call a biza; and commonly this biza is worth, in our way of reckoning, about half a crown or somewhat less. The merchandises in Pegu are, gold, silver, rubies, sapphires, spinels, musk, benzoin, frankincense, long pepper, tin, lead, copper, lacca, of which hard sealing-wax is made, rice, wine made of rice [aruck], and some sugar. The elephants eat sugar canes in great quantities, or otherwise they might make abundance of sugar.
They consume many canes likewise, in making their varellas or idol temples, of which there are a prodigious multitude, both large and small. These are made round like a sugar loaf, some being as high as a church, and very broad beneath, some being a quarter of a mile in compass. Within these are all of earth, faced round with stone. In these varellas they consume a vast quantity of gold, as they are all gilded aloft, and some from top to bottom; and they must be newly gilded every ten or twelve years, because the rain washes off the gold, as they all stand exposed to the weather. Were it not for the prodigious quantities of gold consumed in this manner, it would be very plentiful and cheap in Pegu. About two days journey from Pegu there is a varella or pagoda called dogonne, of wonderful bigness, gilded all over from top to bottom, to which the inhabitants of Pegu go in pilgrimage; and near it is a house where their talapoins or priests preach to the people. This house is fifty five paces long, and hath three pawnes or covered walks in it, the roof being supported by forty great gilded pillars, which stand between the walks. It is open on all sides, having a vast number of small gilded pillars, and the whole is gilded both within and without. Round about this there are many fair houses for the pilgrims to dwell in, and many goodly houses in which the talapoins preach, which are all full of idols or images, both male and female, all gilded with gold. This, in my opinion, is the fairest place in the world. It stands very high, having four roads leading to it, all planted on each side with fruit-trees, so that the people walk in the shade in all these avenues, which are each above two miles long. When the grand festival of this varella approaches, one can hardly pass any way, on account of the great throngs of people, both by land and water, as they flock from all parts of the kingdom of Pegu to be present at the festival.
In Pegu, there are many priests or talapoins, as they are called, who preach against all abuses, and many people resort to hear them. When they enter into the kiack, that is to say the holy place or temple, there is a great jar of water at the door, having a cock or ladle, and there they wash their feet. They then walk in, and lift their hands to their heads, first to the preacher, and then to the sun, after which they sit down. The talapoins are strangely apparelled, having a brown cambaline or thin cloth next their body, above which is another of yellow many times doubled or folded over their shoulders, and these two are girded round them by a broad girdle. They have a skin of leather hung by a string round their necks, on which they sit, bare headed and bare footed, as they wear no shoes. Their right arms are all bare, and they carry a large sombrero or umbrella over their heads, which protects them from the sun in summer, and from the rain in winter.
Before taking their orders, the talapoins go to school till, twenty years old or more, and then go before a head talapoin appointed for the purpose, called a rowli, who is the most learned of the order, who examines them many times, whether they will leave their friends, foregoing the company of women, and assume the habit of a talapoin. If any one be content, he is made to ride through the streets on a horse, very richly apparelled, accompanied by many drums and trumpets, to shew that he is about to quit the riches and vanity of the world. A few days afterwards, he is again carried through the streets, on a thing like a horse litter, called serion, mounted on the shoulders of ten or twelve men, and dressed in the habit of a talapoin, preceded by drums and instruments of music, and accompanied by many talapoins and all his friends. He is thus carried to his house without side of the town, and is there left.
Every individual talapoin has his own house, which is very small, set upon six or eight posts, and to which they have to go up by a ladder of twelve or fourteen staves. Their houses are mostly by the roadsides, and among the trees in the woods. They go about, having a great pot of wood or fine earthen ware covered, and hung by a broad belt from their shoulder, with which they beg their victuals, being rice, fish, and herbs. They never ask any thing, but come to the doors, when the people presently give them, some one thing and some another, all of which they put into their pot, saying they must feed on their alms and be contented. Their festivals are regulated by the moon, their chiefest being at the new moon, when the people send rice and other things to the kiack or church which they frequent, where all the talapoins belonging to it meet and eat the victuals that are sent. When the talapoins preach, many of their hearers carry gifts to them in the pulpit, while preaching, a person sitting beside the preacher to receive these gifts, which are divided between them. So far as I could see, they have no other ceremonials or religious service, except preaching.
From Pegu I went to Jamahey, in the country of the Langeiannes, whom we call Jangomes, which is twenty-five days' journey north from Pegu, in which journey I passed through many fertile and pleasant countries, the whole being low land, with many fine rivers; but the houses are mean and bad, being built of canes and covered with straw. This country has great numbers of wild elephants and buffaloes. Jamahey is a large handsome town, well peopled, and the houses are well built of stone, with broad streets. The men are strong and well made, having a cloth about their middles, bareheaded and with bare feet, as in all these countries they wear no shoes. The women are much fairer than those of Pegu. In all these countries they have no wheat, living entirely on rice, which they make into cakes. To Jamahey there come many merchants out of China, bringing great store of musk, gold, silver, and many Chinese manufactures. They have here such great abundance of provisions, that they do not take the trouble to milk the buffaloes as they do in other places. Here there is great abundance of copper and benzoin.
In these countries, when people are sick, they make a vow to offer meat to the devil in case of recovery; and when they recover, they make a banquet, with many pipes and drums and other musical instruments, dancing all night, and their friends bring gifts of coco-nuts, figs, arecas, and other fruits, and with much dancing and rejoicing they offer these to the devil, giving him to eat, and then drive him out. While dancing and playing, they often cry and hallow aloud, to drive the devil away. While sick, a talapoin or two sit every night by the sick person, continually singing, to please the devil, that he may not hurt them. When anyone dies, he is carried on a great frame of wood like a tower, having a covering or canopy made of canes all gilded, which is carried by fourteen or sixteen men, preceded by drums, pipes, and other instruments, and being taken to a place out of the town, the body is there burned. On this occasion, the body is accompanied by all the male friends, relations, and neighbours of the deceased; and they give the talapoins or priests many mats and much cloth. They then return to the house, where they feast for two days. After this, the widow, with all her neighbours wives, and female friends, goes to the place where her husband was burnt, where they sit a certain time lamenting, and then gather up all the pieces of bones which have not been burnt to ashes, which they bury; they then return home, and thus make an end of mourning. On these occasions, the male and female relations shave their heads, which is only done for the death of a friend, as they greatly esteem their hair.
Caplan, the place where the rubies, sapphires and spinels are found, is six days journey from Ava in the kingdom of Pegu. There are here many great hills out of which they are dug, but no person is allowed to go to the pits, except those employed in digging. In Pegu, and in all the countries of Ava, Langeiannes, Siam, and of the Birmans, the men wear little round balls in their privities, some having two and some three, being put in below the skin, which is cut for that purpose, one on one side and another on the other, which they do when 25 or 30 years of age. These were devised that they might not abuse the male sex, to which shocking vice they were formerly much addicted. It was also ordained, that the women should not have more than three cubits of cloth in their under garments, which likewise are open before, and so tight, that when they walk they shew the leg bare above the knee.
The bramas, or birmans of the kings country, for the king is a birman, have their legs or bellies, or some other part of their body according to their fancy, made black by pricking the skin, and rubbing in anile or indigo, or some other black powder, which continues ever after; and this is considered as a great honour, none being allowed to do this but the birmans who are of kin to the king. Those people wear no beards, but pull out the hair from their faces with small pincers made for the purpose. Some leave 16 or 20 hairs growing together, some on one part of the face and some on another, and pull out all the rest; every man carrying his pincers with him, and pulling out the hairs as fast as they appear. If they see a man with a beard they wonder at him. Both men and women have their teeth black; for they say a dog has white teeth, and therefore they have theirs black. When the Peguers have a law-suit that is difficult to determine, they place two long canes upright in the water where it is very deep, and both parties go into the water beside the poles, having men present to judge them; they both dive, and he who remains longest under water gains his suit.
The 10th of January, I went from Pegu to Malacca, passing many of the sea-ports of Pegu, as Martaban, the island of Tavi whence all India is supplied with tin, Tanaserim, the island of Junkselon, and many others. I came on the 8th of February to Malacca, where the Portuguese have a castle near the sea. The country without the town belongs to the Malays, who are a proud kind of people, going naked with a cloth about their waists, and a small roll of cloth round their heads. To this place come many ships from China, the Moluccas, Banda, Timor, and many other islands of the Javas, bringing great store of spices, drugs, diamonds, and other precious stones. The voyages to many of these islands belong to the captain of Malacca, so that no one can go there without his licence, by which he draws large sums of money every year. The Portuguese at Malacca are often at war with the king of Acheen in the island of Sumatra; from whence comes great store of pepper and other spices yearly to Pegu, Mecca, and other places.
When the Portuguese go from Macao in China to Japan, they carry much white silk, gold, musk, and porcelain, and bring from thence nothing but silver. A great carak goes on this voyage every year, and brings from thence about 600,000 crusadoes: and all this silver of Japan, and 200,000 more which they bring yearly from India, they employ to great advantage in China, whence they bring gold, musk, silk, copper, porcelains, and many very costly articles richly gilded. When the Portuguese go to Canton in China to trade, they are only permitted to remain there a certain number of days. When they enter the gates of the city, they have to set down their names in a book, and when they go out at night must put out their names, as they are not allowed to remain in the town all night, but must sleep in their boats. When their time of stay is expired, if any one remain, he is liable to be imprisoned and very ill used, as the Chinese are very suspicious and do not trust strangers; and it is even thought that the king of China does not know of any strangers being admitted into his dominions. It is likewise credibly reported, that the people of China see their king very seldom, or not at all, and may not even look up to the place where he sits. When he goes abroad, he is carried in a great chair or serion, splendidly gilded, on which is made a small house with a lattice to look through, so that he cannot be seen but may see about him. While he is passing, all the people kneel with their faces to the ground, holding their hands over their heads, and must not look up till he is past.
In China, when in mourning, the people wear white thread shoes and straw hats. A man mourns two years for his wife, the wife three years for her husband, the son a year for his father, and two years for his mother. During the whole time of mourning the dead body is kept in the house, the bowels being taken out, filled with chaunam or lime, and put into a coffin. When the time expires, it is carried out with much playing and piping, and burned. After this they pull off their mourning weeds, and may marry again when they please. All the people of China, Japan, and Cochin-china, write downwards, from the top of the page to the bottom using a fine pencil made of dog's or cat's hair.
Laban is an island among the Javas, whence come the diamonds of the new water. They are there found in the rivers, as the king will not allow them to be dug for in the rock. Jamba is another island among the Javas, from whence also diamonds are brought. In this island the king has a mass of earth growing in the middle of the river, which is gold; and when he is in want of gold, they cut part of this earth and melt it, whereof cometh gold. This mass of earth is only to be seen once a year, in the month of April, when the water is low. Bima is another island among the Javas, where the women labour as our men do in England, and the men keep the house or go where they will.
The 28th of March 1588, I returned from Malacca to Martaban, and thence to Pegu, where I remained the second time till the 17th of September, and then went to Cosmin where I took shipping; and escaping many dangers from contrary winds, it pleased God that we arrived in Bengal in November. I had to remain there, for want of a passage, till the 3d February 1589, when I embarked for Cochin. In this voyage we suffered great hardships for want of water; for the weather was very hot, and we were many on board, merchants and passengers, and we had many calms. It pleased God that we arrived in Ceylon on the 6th of March, where we staid five days, to furnish ourselves with water and necessary provisions.
Ceylon is a beautiful and fertile island, yet by reason of continual wars with the king, every thing is very dear, as he will not suffer any thing to be brought to the castle belonging to the Portuguese, so that they are often in great want of victuals, and they are forced to bring their provisions every year from Bengal. The king is called rajah and is very powerful, for he comes sometimes against Columbo, where the Portuguese have their fort, with 100,000 men and many elephants. But they are all naked people, though many of them are excellent marksmen with their muskets. When the king talks with any man, he stands on one leg, setting the other foot on his knee, with his sword in his hand; as, according to their customs the king never sits. He is dressed in a fine painted cotton cloth wrapped about his middle; his hair long and bound about his head with a small fine cloth, and all the rest of his body naked. His guard is a thousand men, which stand round about him. They are all Chingalese, who are said to be the best kind of the Malabars. They have very large ears, as the larger they are the more honourable they are esteemed, some being a span long. They burn the wood of the cinnamon tree, which gives a pleasant scent. In this island there is great store of rubies, sapphires, and spinels of the best kind, but the king will not allow the inhabitants to dig for them, lest they should tempt his enemies to make war upon him and deprive him of his dominions. There are no horses in this country, but many elephants, which are not so large as those of Pegu, which are of prodigious size; yet it is said all other elephants are afraid of those of Ceylon, and refuse to fight them, though small. The women of this island wear a cloth round their middles, reaching only to the knees, all the rest of their bodies being bare. Both men and women are black and very little. Their houses are small, being constructed of the branches of the palmer or coco tree, and covered with the leaves of the same tree.
The 11th of March we departed from Ceylon and doubled Cape Comorin. Not far from thence, between Ceylon and the mainland of India at Negapatnam, they fish for pearls every year, whence all India, Cambaya, and Bengal are supplied. But these pearls are not so orient [are not so round or of so fine a water] as those of Bahrain in the gulph of Persia. From Cape Comorin we went to Coulan, a fort of the Portuguese, whence comes great store of pepper for Portugal, as frequently one of the caraks is laden here. We arrived at Cochin on the 22d of March, where we found the weather very warm, and a great scarcity of provisions, as neither corn nor rice grows here, having mostly to be supplied from Bengal. They have here very bad water, as the river is far off; and by this bad water many of the people are like lepers, and many have their legs swollen as big as a man's waist, so that they can hardly walk. The people here are Malabars, of the race of the Nairs of Calicut, who differ much from the other Malabars. These have their heads very full of hair, bound up with a string, above which is a great bush of hair. The men are tall and strong, and excellent archers, using a long bow and long arrows, which are their best weapons; yet they have some fire-arms among them, which they handle very badly.
In this country pepper grows, being trained up a tree or pole. It is like our ivy berry, but something longer, like an ear of wheat. At first the bunches are green, but as they become ripe they are cut off and dried. The leaf is much smaller and thinner than that of ivy. The houses of the inhabitants are very small, and are covered with the leaves of the coco-tree. The men are of moderate stature, but the women very little; all black, with a cloth about their middles, hanging down to their hams, all the rest of their bodies being naked. They have horribly great ears, with many rings set with pearls and other stones. All the pepper sold in Calicut, and the coarse cinnamon [cassia] grow in this country. The best cinnamon comes from Ceylon, and is peeled from fine young trees. They have here many palmers, or coco-nut trees, which is their chief food, as it yields both meat and drink, together with many other useful things, as I said formerly.
The nairs belonging to the Samorin or king of Calicut, which are Malabars, are always at war with the Portuguese, though their sovereign be at peace with them; but his people go to sea to rob and plunder. Their chief captain is called Cogi Alli, who hath three castles under his authority. When the Portuguese complain to the Samorin, he pretends that he does not send them out, but he certainly consents to their going. They range all along the coast from Ceylon to Goa, and go in parties of four or five paraos or boats together, in each of which are fifty or sixty men, who immediately board every vessel they come up with, doing much harm on that coast, and every year take many foists and barks belonging to the Portuguese. Besides the nairs, many of the people in these paraos are Moors. The dominions of the Samorin begin twelve leagues from Cochin and reach to near Goa.
I remained in Cochin eight months, till the 2d of November, not being able to procure a passage in all that time; whereas if I had arrived two days sooner I should have got a passage immediately. From Cochin I went to Goa, which is an hundred leagues; and after remaining three days I went to Chaul, sixty leagues from Goa. I remained twenty-three days at Chaul, making all necessary preparations for the prosecution of my voyage. I then sailed for Ormus, four hundred leagues from Goa, where I had to wait fifty days for a passage to Basora.
From Basora I went up the Euphrates and Tigris to Babylon or Bagdat, being drawn up most of the way by the strength of men, hauling by a long rope. From Bagdat I went by land to Mosul, which stands near the scite of the ancient Nineveh, which is all ruinated and destroyed. From Mosul I travelled to Merdin in Armenia, where a people called Cordies or Curds now dwell. I went thence to Orfa, a fair town having a fair fountain full of fish, where the Mahometans hold many opinions, and practice many ceremonies in reference to Abraham, who they allege once dwelt there. From thence I went to Bir, where I crossed the Euphrates, and continued my journey to Aleppo; whence, after staying some months for a caravan, I went to Tripolis in Syria. Finding an English ship there, I had a prosperous voyage to London, where by the blessing of God I arrived safe on the 29th of April 1591, having been eight years absent from my native country.
* * * * *
Before ending this my book, I have thought right to declare some things which are produced in India and the countries farther east.
Pepper grows in many parts of India, especially about Cochin; much of it growing wild in the fields among the bushes without cultivation, and is gathered when ripe. When first gathered it is green, but becomes black by drying in the sun. Ginger is found in many parts of India, growing like our garlic, the root being the ginger. Cloves come from the Molucca islands, the tree resembling our bay. Nutmegs and mace grow together on the same tree, and come from the island of Banda, the tree being like our walnut-tree, but smaller. White sandal-wood comes from the island of Timor. It is very sweet scented, and is in great request among the natives of India, who grind it up with a little water, and then anoint their bodies with it, as a grateful perfume. Camphor is esteemed very precious among the Indians, and is sold dearer than gold, so that I think none of it comes to Christendom. That which is compounded comes from China: But the best, which grows in canes, comes from the great island of Borneo.
Lignuo aloes are from Cochin China. Benjamin, or Benzoin, comes from Siam and Jangomes. Long pepper grows in Bengal, Pegu, and the Javas. Musk comes from Tartary, Amber is supposed by most to come out of the sea, as it is all found on the shore.
Rubies, sapphires and spinels are found in Pegu. Diamonds are found in several places, as in Bisnagur, Agra, Delhi, and the Javan islands. The best pearls come from the isle of Bahrein in the gulf of Persia; and an inferior sort from the fisheries near Ceylon, and from Ainan, a large island off the southern coast of China. Spodium and many other drugs come from Cambaia or Gujrat, commonly called Guzerat.
[Footnote 403: I am apt to suspect the word still here used, is only meant to imply fermentation, not distillation--E.]
[Footnote 404: In this route from Masulipatan to Agra, there are several places of which the names are so disfigured as to be unintelligible. Barrampore and Mandoway, are probably Burhampore and Candwah in the northern part of Candeish; Vgini and Serringe, may he Ougein and Seronge in Malwa.--E.]
[Footnote 405: Futtipoor, certainly here meant, is now a place of small importance about 20 miles west from Agra.--E.]
[Footnote 406: In Purchas his Pilgrims, I. 110, is the following notice respecting Mr Newberry: "Before that," meaning his journey along with Fitch, "he had travelled to Ormus in 1580, and thence into the Continent, as may appear in fitter place by his journal, which I have, passing through the countries of Persia, Media, Armenia, Georgia, and Natolia, to Constantinople; and thence to the Danube, through Walachia, Poland, Prussia, and Denmark, and thence to England."]
[Footnote 407: At the angle of junction between the rivers Jumna and Ganges, the city of Allahabad is now situated.--E.]
[Footnote 408: This tying of new married folks together by the clothes, was used by the Mexicans in old times.--Hakluyt.]
[Footnote 409: In our modern maps Tanda and the country or district of Gouren are not to be found; but the ruins of Gour, which may have some reference to Gouren, are laid down in lat. 24° 52' N. long. 88° 5' E. about seven miles from the main stream of the great Ganges, and ten miles south from the town of Maida.--E.]
[Footnote 410: This seemeth to be Quicheu, accounted by some among the provinces of China.--Hakluyt.
The name of this country is so excessively corrupt, and the description of the route so vague, that nothing can be made out of the text at this place with any certainty. It is merely possible that he may have gone into Bootan, which is to the north of Bengal.--E.]
[Footnote 411: In Mexico they likewise use the cacao fruit, or chocolate nut, for small money, which are not unlike almonds.--Hakluyt.]
[Footnote 412: More accurately 22° 55' 20" N. and long. 88° 28' E. Hoogly stands on the western branch of the Ganges, called the Hoogly river, about twenty miles direct north from Calcutta.--E.]
[Footnote 413: We thus are enabled to discover nearly the situation of Satagan or Satigan, to have been on the Hoogly river, probably where Chinsura now stands, or it may have been Chandernagor.--E.]
[Footnote 414: Injelly, at the mouth of a small river which falls into the Hoogly, very near its discharge into the bay of Bengal. Injelly is not now considered as in Orissa, but in the district of Hoogly belonging to Bengal, above forty miles from the frontiers--E.]
[Footnote 415: A similar cloth may be made of the long grass which grows in Virginia.--Hakluyt.]
[Footnote 416: India seems always here limited to the Malabar coast.--E.]
[Footnote 417: Perhaps this ought to have been, by the country of Tipera _to_ Porto Grande. Porto Grande, formerly called Chittigong, is now called Islamabad, and is in the district of Chittigong, the most easterly belonging to Bengal.--E.]
[Footnote 418: Aracan is certainly here meant by Recon; of Rame nothing can be made, unless Brama, or Birmah be meant.--E.]
[Footnote 419: Bottanter almost certainly means Bootan. Of Bottia we know nothing, but it is probably meant to indicate the capital. Dermain may possibly be some corruption of Deb raja, the title of the sovereign. It is obvious from this passage, that Couche must have been to the south of Bootan, and was perhaps Coch-beyhar, a town and district in the north-east of Bengal, near the Bootan frontier.--E.]
[Footnote 420: The saffon of Persia of the text may perhaps mean turmeric. The cambals may possibly mean camblets.--E.]
[Footnote 421: These seem to be the mountains of Imaus, called Cumao by the natives.--Hakluyt.
The Himmaleh mountains, dividing Bootan from Thibet, said to be visible from the plains of Bengal at the distance of 150 miles.--E.]
[Footnote 422: Perhaps Pucouloe, a place of some size near Davas between the Ganges and Burhampooter rivers.--E.]
[Footnote 423: Serampoor on the Hoogly river agrees at least in sound with the Serrepore of the text; but, from the context, I rather suspect Serrepore to have stood among the numerous islands of the great eastern Ganges, in the province of Dava, and near the junction of the Ganges and Burhampooter or Megna rivers. Of Sinnergan I can make nothing, only that it must have stood in the same district.--E.]
[Footnote 424: Recon has already been supposed to be Aracan, which is now quite obvious; but in what manner Mogen may refer to Ava, the next country to the south, does not appear.--E.]
[Footnote 425: Surely the bamboo, not the sugar cane. It may be noticed, that almost the whole of this account of Pegu seems to have been borrowed from the relation of Cesar Frederick.--E.]
[Footnote 426: The names here used are so corrupted as to be utterly unintelligible. Twenty-five days journey north from the city of Pegu, or perhaps 500 miles, would lead the author into the northern provinces of the Birman empire, of which the geography is very little known, perhaps into Assan: Yet the Langeiannes may possibly refer to Lang-shang in Laos, nearly west from Pegu. Jamahey may be Shamai, in the north of Laos; near the N.W. frontier of China.--E.]
[Footnote 427: All the names of these islands among the Javas, or isles of Sunda are unintelligibly corrupt.--E.]
[Footnote 428: This account of the commodities of India so very much resembles that already given in the perigrinations of Cesar Frederick, Vol. VII. p. 204, as to seem in a great measure borrowed from it, though with some variations.--E.]
[Footnote 429: In Cesar Frederick's peregrinations, Benzoin is said to come from Siam and Assi, or Assam, which confirms the conjecture already made, of Langeiannes and the Jangomes referring to Assam.--E.]
[Footnote 430: Fitch here repeats the ridiculous story respecting the fabrication of musk, already given by Cesar Frederick.--E.]
[Footnote 431: Certainly Ambergris, the origin of which from the Spermaceti whale has been formerly noticed in this work.--E.]
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